Monday, April 18, 2011

Whoever You Are, I Want to Thank You

About a week ago I started putting together a playlist for my iPod called ‘Driving’. Matt and I are going to need about forty hours worth of music for the ride south and west, so I got that started and found that just off the top of my head, there were eleven hours of music readily available for our listening pleasure. That should get us to Dan’s place no problem and possibly into Virginia depending on the traffic.

At any rate, if you know the band Geggy Tah then you likely recognize the lyric in the title today. So what does this all have to do with today’s picture request --A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently -- well the lyric itself has a lot to do with it but I should back up and start at the beginning.

We live in a four unit house and there is one washer and dryer in the basement that all the apartments share. Of course it’s a coin-op because, well, that’s just how it goes. Other than one apartment in New York, since Matt and I have been together, neither of us have had the use of a washer and dryer that you didn’t need quarters to run.

The set up is fine but if change ever starts falling by the wayside in this country landlords are going to have to start scrambling. Thankfully we’ll never have to deal with this as an issue again once in Arizona but for now I make the monthly bank run for $40-$60 in rolls of quarters.

When I do wash it’s an all day event and it’s like that for all of us in the complex, we each commandeer the appliances for about 6 hours, get it all done then release it for another two weeks for the other tenants to do their own. Last year sometime, I can’t recall exactly when, I did my usual $40 bank run because I desperately needed to wash some jeans and only had two loads worth of quarters at the house.

So I ran to my bank to deposit a check from a paint job and withdraw the funds to buy the quarters. It seemed innocent enough, I requested the quarters, the teller handed them over once I gave her the $40 and I drove home. I got the first load in and, in anticipation of the other 4 loads I already had sorted on the floor, I started to peel open the paper around the quarters I’d just bought.

What the…?

They were all silver, they didn’t look real and I was just about to go back to the bank when I figured I might as well open the next one first seeing as though I had a lot of laundry to do.

Same damn thing.

So I pulled the paper off the other two rolls too and wouldn’t you know it, they all looked like fake quarters. I thought I’d been had, that I’d spent my $40 on a bunch of washers or something that some clever genius crafted to make a quick buck off the bank. But then I started to look a little closer.

And then I started to sort them out.

And then I grabbed a pen and piece of paper.

And then I went to change over the laundry because I had a feeling I might be a while.

Turned out I had four rolls of Washington silver quarters ranging in date from 1934-1964 including a few -D -S in the series.

Now immediately my brain got to work and I started to think if I knew any numismatists who could help me determine the value of these suckers, if they even had a value. I mean silver sure is a commodity and all but does anyone collect seventy six year old coins anymore?

I got to doing some research on eBay. Turned out the quarters could be worth something but the ranges were posted from $0.99 to $27 and some had bids, some didn’t. I found a few coin pages online but unless you know what PCGS MS-63 means you might as well pack it in.

So pack it in I did, into a little white box along with the list of every individual coin I had and how many of each year there was.

Then I put that box away and promptly forgot all about it for the most part except when I moved it around to dust my night stand. I figured it would be something I’d get back to in a year or so, something that maybe I’d do a little research in and maybe even learn about coin collecting of my own!

Yeah not so much. I like money, I have money, I spend money but learning about the history of money? Just not my thing. So like I said, in the box they sat.

Until last week when Matt and I were watching all the episodes of Pawn Stars that were on demand and we ran out. We discovered there was another pawn show on TruTV called Hardcore Pawn (where do they come up with these names seriously?) so since there were only two episodes we figured why not give it a shot. If it sucked we’d never watch it again.

During the second episode a guy came into their shop with a whole bunch of coins to be appraised and sold. This sparked the memory of what we had sitting in the box in the bedroom. And because Matt is just that kind of guy, he found a local coin appraiser, JJTeaparty, the next day while at work, emailed them and found out they would appraise and pay right on the spot. We figured even if all the quarters were worth $0.50 we doubled our money. They seemed excited to hear the type we had so this past Saturday we took a trip into the city with my 4lb. box of coins.

When the very, very, dry personality numismatist opened the box he looked over my list and said “Yeah, these are all common.” My heart kind of sank, but only because I imagined that $40 worth of laundry money had been sitting there all this time and who can squander $40 these days? Certainly not us! So I said “Oh.” And he started typing away on his calculator while he said “Yeah, it’s the 1932’s and 1934-D’s that are the big money coins, these here are only worth about $3.50 a piece but I can run ‘em through the machine and see how many you got and pay you today if you wanted to sell them still.”

Wait, I’m sorry. Come again? Did you just say that a “common” dollar figure is one that’s something like a 1500% mark up of the face value?

I pulled out my cell phone calculator and started doing the math. I also had a couple other coins I’d randomly been collecting from the bank over the past couple years, most of those dollars or half dollars he said to just spend because they weren’t worth more than face value but a couple of the others were a couple bucks a piece.

All told my math worked out to over $600.

For a teeny little white box full of coins? We barely had to think about it at all as we turned to catch the eye of the gray haired, glasses wearing 65 year old man in his yellow collar shirt and vest. He lifted his semi-excited eyes back up to catch mine and asked if we decided. Matt and I simultaneously said “Yeah, we’re gonna sell.”

We’ve just watched one too many episodes of Pawn Stars I think.

He dumped the coins into his machine, grabbed the ticket and started scribbling down numbers for each of the different types of coins we handed over. And when we left the store we left with a receipt and a bunch of linen that totaled a dollar value of $656.25

Yeah, the $0.25, can I get that in silver please?

He didn’t laugh. I don’t think the guy ever laughed in his life. Of course I couldn’t have been the first to make that joke so that could have been why, sorry about that buddy. At least he didn’t roll his eyes at me for being “that” customer. We thanked him and went on our way.

As soon as we got to the car we realized that the money we just acquired was
1. Totally found money that wasn’t even part of our original “sell stuff to move” budget
2. A total and complete fluke of luck that we happened to get those rolls
And oh yeah, flipping awesome!!

We did the exploding double fist bump and drove straight to the bank with one third of our moving truck budget firmly in hand.

So thank you to whoever turned in those quarters for only $40. Like I said on Storrow Drive on the way to Arlington, I seriously hope that through no harm to others you somehow come into $656 sometime soon.

And may the additional $0.25 be in silver.

Catch up on anything you missed  30 Photos, 30 Days


Linda Myers said...

What a great story, and what fabulous good fortune!

Bridgete said...


I need to catch up on my challenge. Really glad now that I did mine on Facebook, haha!

Danial said...

Nice! And incidentally, America by Simon and Garfunkel is a great song to kick off a road trip mix.

Matt S said...

Dan, you are so right.....but it was more appropriate leaving from NYC....counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike. Off to go seach ebay for more quarters....

#1Nana said...

I love stories about good fortune. I hope your luck comes in threes!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks everyone! It was one of the coolest experiences I've had, really, ever! No babe, it can't be replicated, step away from eBay...

Ohh yeah, great addition for the mix Dan, off to see if I've got it, but Matt must even if I don't.

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

Almost Precious said...

Luck or fate ? Who can say? Perhaps a bit of both. Once, years ago, my eldest daughter was having a tough time of it financially, Had just enough money to pay the rent but nothing left over to buy groceries with. She had no idea how they were going to pull through to the next paycheck and that's when she found a plain white envelope in the parking lot. No ID on it nothing but inside was about $200 in cash. It was a life saver. Fate? Luck ? Who knows? As they say; "Never look a gift horse in the mouth."

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Anna stories like that always remind me that there is something at work out there much bigger than all of us! What an awesome story :-) We went and spent a little of this money on music (a lot of which is now in that playlist I was talking about for the road) but mostly just banked it so we can be in a better position to move in a few weeks. It brought my stress levels down tremendously because I've been freaking out that stuff wasn't selling on craigslist. Now I don't have to :-)

Rosebud Collection said...

Ah, life is good...xoxoCarolyn